D.C. Charter board correctly decides not to tier schools for 2015

With all of the goings on in the world today it may have escaped followers of our local charter school movement that for the first time in four years the DC Public Charter School Board has elected not to tier its schools based upon results of the Performance Management Framework.

This is exactly the right decision.

As you may recall, in reaction to the change in the annual standardized test assessment from the DC CAS to the PARCC, together with the adoption of the common core standards, 20 school leaders sent a letter to the PCSB requesting that in the face of these initiatives tiering be waived for a year.  One of the individuals signing the letter was Jennie Niles, the Deputy Mayor for Education, in her previous role as executive director and founder of E.L. Haynes PCS.  The letter was also sent with the knowledge that DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson had earlier moved to not use 2015 PARCC results as part of the IMPACT teacher evaluation tool as her system acclimated to the new examination.

The board refused to budge, and stated emphatically that tiering would continue for the 2014 to 2015 term.  I argued strongly that this decision should be reversed.

So what is different now?  Apparently at the August meeting of the board an amendment was adopted to the 2015 PMF guidelines that consolidated early childhood, elementary school, and middle schools scoring into one grade.  In the past, charters received separate PMF’s for these groupings.   The modification made comparison to previous report cards impossible.  Therefore, the PCSB ruled at its December 2015 meeting to hold schools harmless for 12 months while simultaneously coming to the conclusion that high schools should also not be tiered to avoid some charters getting a ranking while others did not.

My only comment on all of this is that it would have been much simpler, and removed a great deal of stress for school leaders, if the PCSB had simply followed Ms. Henderson’s lead in the face of students taking the new PARCC examination.


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